Edward L. Bernays Essay, Research Paper
Edward L. Bernays
Public Relations is the attempt by infornation, persuasion, and adjustment to engineer public support for and actively, cause, movement, or institution. Edward L. Bernays, 1955. Edward L. Bernays was born Nov. 22, 1891 in Vienna, Austria. Bernays was a pioneer American publicist who is generally considered to have been the first to develop the idea of the professional public relations counselor, one who draws on the social sciences in order to motivate and shape the response of a general or particular audience. Bernays was a year old when his parents moved to New York City from Austria, where his uncle, the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was beginning his work. His mother was Freud’s sister, Anna, and his father was a successful grain merchant. After graduating from high school at age 16, Bernays attended Cornell University, where, to make his father happy, he earned a degree in agriculture in 1912. Bernays chose to leave farm products after a brief getting into the grain market a little and found work editing a medical review. This brought to his attention a play, Damaged Goods, whose would-be producer found popular taboos against the subject–venereal disease–insuperable. Bernays organized a scheme to gain endorsements of the play by civic leaders, and as a result the play was produced successfully and Bernays had found his true calling. After World War I, Bernays and Doris Fleischman, whom he later married, opened their own public relations office. Their first clients included the U.S. War Department, which wanted to persuade businesses to hire returning war veterans, and the Lithuanian government, which was lobbying for recognition by the United States. For one client, Venida hairnets, Bernays publicized the danger of women workers wearing long, loose hair in factories and restaurants. As a result, several U.S. states passed laws requiring factory workers and female food-service employees to wear hairnets. He organized soap-carving competitions for the Ivory soap of his client Procter & Gamblea vigorous spokesman and advocate for public relations into his 90s, Bernays was the author of many books, among the most influential of which were Crystallizing Public Opinion and Public Relations (1952). He edited The Engineering of Consent (1955), the title of which is his oft-quoted def of public relations.